Please note that we are seeing high patient volumes in the emergency department. Learn more >>.

Know before you go to the ER
Select the search type
  • Site
  • Web

Brain Aneurysm Diagnosis

Brain aneurysms are often discovered by chance through noninvasive procedures or imaging when looking for other issues or when you’ve had a hemorrhage or seizure. 

The neurosurgeons at Barnes-Jewish Hospital manage hundreds of brain aneurysm patients each year, including half of the unruptured aneurysms in the St. Louis region. We are on the forefront of new technologies and have the latest tools to diagnose your brain aneurysm, including advanced imaging such as:

  • Computed tomographic imaging (CT) and angiography (CTA)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and angiography (MRA)
  • Cerebral angiogram/arteriogram

Many aneurysms are considered “low risk” and only need to be monitored with imaging studies over time. Our experienced team of specialists collaborate to determine what treatment, if necessary, is right for you.

If you experience sudden symptoms, such as a very severe headache, double vision or weakness, seek emergency care. Your unique situation dictates which advanced imaging test is used for brain aneurysm diagnosis. Commonly used tests are described below. 

Computed Tomography (CT) & Angiography (CTA)

A CT scan is a special type of test that uses X-rays. A CTA is a CT test that includes the use of a special dye. The dye is injected through an IV in your arm and helps physicians look at blood vessels. The test requires lying still on your back while being moved through a tube-like machine.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) & Angiography (MRA)

MRI and MRA tests are used to examine the blood vessels of the brain. They also require a special dye that is injected through an IV in the arm. During the test, you will lie face up and motionless in a tube-shaped machine. Unlike a CT that uses X-rays, these machines use magnetic fields.


A cerebral angiogram is the most sensitive imaging test for diagnosing and monitoring brain aneurysms. You will be sedated, and a small area of your body—typically the groin—is numbed. An endovascular specialist inserts a small tube called a catheter into a blood vessel in the groin and threads it through blood vessels in your neck. Then, we inject a contrast dye so that X-rays can reveal all arteries and any abnormalities such as a brain aneurysm.

When the angiogram is over, you will stay in the hospital for two to six hours. The length of time depends on the details of the test and your condition.

An accurate diagnosis of an aneurysm relies upon detailed visual information. The imaging and diagnostic team at the Washington University Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology provides us with this information.

To make an appointment with a Washington University cerebrovascular specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 855.925.0631.

2023 Best Hospitals - Neurology and Neurosurgery

#17 in the Nation by U.S. News & World Report

Find a doctor or make an appointment: 866.867.3627
General Information: 314.747.3000
One Barnes-Jewish Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63110
© Copyright 1997-2024, Barnes-Jewish Hospital. All Rights Reserved.